Autumn’s Journey

Autumn during her hospital stay
Autumn during her hospital stay

Autumn is not even two years old, but she has faced enough hardships to last her a lifetime. Her mother, Carrie, had a perfect pregnancy—there was nothing detected to assume anything was wrong with Autumn. Autumn’s birth was normal and healthy—things appeared to be perfect.

However, her parents noticed Autumn was at the 30th percentile in weight at six months. When she went in for her nine month check-up, she was below zero on the weight chart. The doctors were concerned, so they kept running tests on Autumn in hopes she would get better. At 11 months old, Autumn was progressively getting worse—she was vomiting and would not eat—a meal for Autumn was five or six bites. Everyone was extremely concerned about Autumn’s health, since there was no diagnosis.

In January of this year, Autumn was admitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where she was tested for everything. Her family wanted answers so they could help their little girl get well. The doctors made the decision to insert a Nasogastric (NG) tube through Autumn’s nose, so they could attempt to get nutrients to her. The doctors started Autumn’s feeds, and she would vomit between three and four times per day with the NG tube. Every time Autumn would start to get better, she would have a set back and end up losing more weight than she had gained. In March, Autumn had an endoscopy to see why the NG tube was not working. She was put under anesthetic, and her results came back clean; however, Autumn later vomited up undigested food. Carrie, Autumn’s mother, knew something was not adding up.

Finally at the end of March, Autumn was diagnosed with colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation in the digestive tract. She lost half a pound and weighed the same as she had weighed at six months old. Doctors decided to remove the NG tube and insert a gastrostomy tube (G-tube), which is inserted through the abdomen and delivers nutrition directly to the stomach. However, something still felt like it was wrong, so Brad, Autumn’s dad, told the doctors Autumn had been clumsy with crawling, since she was too weak to walk anymore. On April 15th, Autumn had a CAT scan, and Brad and Carrie received news that would turn their world upside down: their sweet daughter had fluid on her optic nerve and there was a blockage with it. Autumn had a Pilomyxoid astrocytoma, a more aggressive and rare type of brain tumor.

Autumn was admitted into the ICU and had an eight hour brain surgery on April 22nd. After the surgery, she was diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus, which means the kidneys cannot excrete water, and her sodium levels are at an all-time high. Within a couple of hours of this diagnosis, Autumn had two seizures, and she was put on strict fluid restrictions. Because of this, Autumn became severely dehydrated, then she had fluid buildup, so all of these resulted in a lot of stress on her poor little body. The doctors put Autumn on three different antibiotics, and one was a research drug, which had not been tested in children, so her doctors had to special order the medicine. Autumn had two pick lines placed in her body to help with nutrition and fluid intake, as well as a port in her chest.

Since Autumn will be undergoing chemotherapy for the next 12-18 months, her family will be staying at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. Carrie said, “You know, for the first two weeks we were here, we stayed in the room with Autumn, we did not leave her side. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio has been wonderful for us. We (Brad, Carrie, and Carrie’s mother) take shifts staying in the room with Autumn. Someone is with her at all times. We take turns going over to the Ronald McDonald House. It is wonderful to come over and have a home-cooked meal, as well as a hot shower and comfortable bed. The Ronald McDonald House has helped with cost and proximity while Autumn was critical. We are so thankful to stay at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. It has been a huge blessing.”